When Dad played his fiddle, the world became a bright star. To him violin was an instrument of faith, hope and charity. At least a thousand times, my mother said, “Your papa would play his fiddle if the world was about to blow up.”
And once Dad came about as close to that as could ever be possible.
Everything on Nubbin Ridge—and on a majority of the small farms in Texas—was built around cotton as the money crop. But in the early years of the century， the boll weevil began devastating the cotton farms in the south.
And in May of 1910 folks all over the nation were in a space-age state of turmoil over Halley's Comet. There were all sorts of frightening stories about the comet, the main one being that the world would pass through its tail, said to be millions of miles long.
Between the threats of comet and weevils, the farmers were running low on optimism. One night, the farmers gathered at our farm to discuss what to do. When everyone had found seats, Will Bowen suggested, “Charley, how about getting down your fiddle and bow and giving us a little music?”
“Aw, I don't think anybody'd want to hear me saw the gourd tonight,” Dad replied.
“Come on, Mr. Nordyke,” one of the younger women urged, “why don't you play for us.”
Dad had a knack for getting people in the mood for his music. Knowing of the scattered prejudice against the fiddle, he eased into a song titled Gloryland. It was a church song with church tones, but it was fairly fast with some good runs. He shifted from Gloryland to The Bonnie Blue Flag, a Confederate war song, which created a big stir—foot stamping, hand clapping and a few rebel yells.
Will Bowen, apparently having forgotten Halley's Comet, shouted, “How about giving us Sally Goodin?” Dad played the old breakdown with vigor. Several men jumped up and jigged around. Children gathered around and gazed wide-eyed at the performance.